Krung Tep Thai Bistro came into being when two good friends decided to pool their skills and launch a restaurant. Dug Sae Jung, whose family owned a dining spot in Thailand, runs the serenely pretty little dining room. Sirikanya "Peipei" Suworrapan, a talented Thai-born home cook, commands the kitchen. Hers is a repertoire that alternately respects and tweaks tradition.
This becomes clear when you taste the Thai spareribs, a dish you won't see on most Thai menus. The ribs are marinated and steamed before being coated with a thick paste of Thai herbs and spices. Then, they're roasted to a state of near-melting tenderness. Knockout stuff. Putting a Thai twist on a Chinese concept are steamed emerald Buddha dumplings stuffed with a Thai-seasoned blend of vegetables. More traditional: Saraburi curry puffs, little fried turnovers filled with a savory blend of chicken and potatoes. It's a dish that works.
What doesn't is fried calamari, a concession to American palates. The ringlets are overcooked and rubbery -- totally out of place, too. And unless you prefer soup that's milky and sweet, you might also want to bypass the tom kha gai, or coconut-chicken soup. On the other hand, tom yum soup with shrimp hits all the right spicy-salty-sour-sweet notes.
Sirikanya nails the intriguing complexity that informs an authentic Thai curry. Her red curry with shrimp has fire power and, at the same time, subtlety. Even better is a resonant green curry ordered with fish filets, which marry well with the eggplant-studded sauce.
A fragrant choice, at dinner, is duck basil, made with lots of sliced poultry. Vegetarians, as well as dieters, may be drawn to the simple tofu "steak" with a soy-ginger sauce on the side. Not bad, if unexciting. Peppercorn-grilled pork chop is hyper-flavorful; a shame it comes out overcooked and dry. But pad kee mao, or drunken noodles, at once rousing and comforting, heats up a frigid afternoon.
Conclude with the classic mango with sticky rice. Sirikanya plates the dessert in the shape of a flower, demonstrating the forethought and care that characterizes so much at this still-blossoming newcomer.